Mitre 10 Cup: Waikato upset Canterbury in opening round thriller

Waikato's Quinn Tupaea makes a break.
Waikato's Quinn Tupaea makes a break. Photo credit: Getty

Waikato have made a Mitre 10 Cup statement, upsetting Canterbury 31-28 in Hamilton on Saturday night.

The Mooloos' first win over the Premiership favourites since 2011 was even more impressive given they were trailing 21-14 at halftime in Hamilton.

The result suggests the Hamilton-based side is intent on making an impact in the top tier of New Zealand provincial rugby, a year after winning promotion.

The win was sealed by winger Valance Te Whare who crashed over in the corner with 11 minutes remaining. Waikato held on bravely as Canterbury desperately sought a match winner. 

Fletcher Smith was outstanding in the No.10 jersey for Waikato, kicking four conversions and a penalty while he also had a hand in multiple attacking onslaughts from the hosts.

Canterbury did walk away with a pair of bonus points for their efforts, but their will be concerns around their defensive effort, giving up four tries.

With Tasman awaiting in Christchurch next week, the red and blacks could very well be 0-2 to start the season given the Mako's domination if Wellington earlier on Saturday.